Gary Bettman on NHL 2020-21 season: Start date TBD, aiming for 82 games, full playoffs
Hours before puck drop for the Stanley Cup Final to cap the NHL's 2019-20 season, league commissioner Gary Bettman held his annual press conference and reiterated that the 2020-21 season is still an unknown.
"Anything that anybody suggests or reads or writes or commentates about next season is nothing more than speculation," he said Saturday in a Zoom call with reporters. "Obviously we've started informally thinking about what optionality is. Dec. 1 has always been a notional date. I will not be surprised if it slips into later December, it could slip into January.
"But there's no point right now [in] making any definitive comments on our plans, because there's still too much we don't know."
What exactly are the unknowns? As Bettman stated, it's still not certain when the Canada-U.S. border will reopen to non-essential travel and it's not clear what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in the coming months. The latter, of course, impacts fans attending games: Will there be spectators? If they are allowed, do they have to be socially distanced or can arenas be filled like the good old days?
One interesting point Bettman brought up regarding attendance: Just because the season may not start with fans in the building, that doesn't mean it'll continue that way through the full slate of games.
"If we're going to speculate, and this is pure speculation, I'm just throwing it out there as a random thought: It's conceivable that we ...
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